Lens Spotlight: M35 - Jason Doss

Lens Spotlight

smc Pentax-M 35mm f/2

Thirty-five millimeters is probably my favorite focal length, but I didn't know it until I tried this lens on film. It's not too wide, but wide, and offers a fairly undistorted image. This lens was one of the first in my collection, and as such, has some external imperfections, if you will. The wide open performance isn't all that hot, but I don't think this is an issue with my lens but is a characteristic of this model in general. This aperture of f/2 is the fastest 35mm Pentax has at this focal length, unless you are able to find the theoretical f/1.4 version which appears on their roster but none have ever seen.

The lens is 205 g (0.45#) and, focused at infinity, 42mm long (1.6 inches) and has 6 aperture blades and 49mm filter threads. The fast aperture of f/2 is faster than average for lenses of this focal length. The lens bears the usual aperture ring and has a rubberized grip for easy manual focusing. Minimum focus distance is 30cm (11.8 inches) producing 1:6.25 reproduction ratio (0.16x).

We visited a used bookstore in a nearby town.  For some reason, I love bookstores but I dislike libraries.  There is no explanation, other than perhaps the forced indulgence of libraries as a small child.  The Dewey-Decimal system was something I came to loathe.  Does it even still exist?

Anyway, the bookstore was organized but disheveled, with boxes of books lying everywhere and some degree of disorder no doubt brought on by previous customers.  The store looked fairly small from the front, but there were several large rooms with narrow walkways and tall bookshelves packed with old books.  There was a little dust, but I had no trouble breathing.

The top photo reminds me of one of the most important things I learned in college.  It didn't come in a class, or even by a professor who taught one of my classes at the time, although I knew him personally then.  He told me, "The half-life of the knowledge you're getting here is about ten years."  It's been 25 years, and I think he was probably right, and if things continue to develop in physics and astronomy as I suspect they will, then most of that knowledge will be flipped over on its head.  This rack of contained books on science, and some that were definitely college level or post-graduate level textbooks, and I recognized some of the titles.  Not these, though.  These were at eye-level, had a nice parallel pattern with complementary colors, and I couldn't resist this shot.

The second shot was not a set up, and I'm serious!  I was near the front of the store, looking for my beautiful wife, when I stumbled upon this scene.  This book was lying in the center of the aisle, and only this book.  I sat on the floor and shot a couple rounds at or near wide open.  I really do need to do a better job of recording the aperture, since the camera can't get any data from manual lenses.

Finally at bottom we have this clash of opposites.  The cushy red chair, pleasantly worn, sits at the mouth of the Health & Fitness section.  This part of the store was especially out of sorts, as you see boxes and piles of books in this frame which was slightly cropped due to cramped conditions.

The trip to the store turned out to be a major success.  All books sought were found, plus a few more that were not sought.  There were several customers in the store, which I carefully avoided since I had the camera.  I don't particularly like taking photos of strangers, and even after a couple of decades of doing this, am still a bit self-conscious when I carry the camera around.  It doesn't stop me from carrying it, but it does stop me from shooting sometimes.

Back to the lens, this is another compact M-series lens with exceptional handling, however I can't say that the small size is special.  Pentax makes quite a few 35mm lenses and most are of similar size.  The M-series lens and the A-series are identical, as far as I can tell, with the exception of auto-aperture on the latter.  Newer versions have lost a stop, and as f/2.8 lenses have better close-focus capability and bear the "Macro" moniker.  These lenses, however, were developed for the APS-C frame, so are closer to the 50mm macro lenses from the days of old.  Next outing with this lens, I will be sure to present some wide open aperture photos and test the lens a little better than I did here.

As usual, please click on the photos to see larger versions.

That's all I have for now... See you next time.

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